Sunday, January 8, 2006
It sounds like we may soon be seeing the direct consequences of the Abramoff plea. Will it include publishers of magazines (see here)? Will it include Tom DeLay (see Seattle Times here)? Will others, like House Speaker Dennis Hastert be able to distance themselves from Abramoff (see Chicago Tribune here)? What will be the effect of one man, Jack Abramoff, talking to the government and disclosing possible wronging throughout the political world. For more details on the man, Jack Abramoff, check out this Time Magazine piece here (subscription required).
CNN reports here of an arrest in Houston of an individual charged with accepting two (2) million dollars in the Oil-for-Food Program. This individual is part of a group facing charges in New York as part of this humanitarian program. (see here) An inquiry into the Oil-for -Food Program produced a report that demonstrated many problems (see here).
The most recent arrest is of Tongsun Park, who CNN describes as an "unregistered lobbyist for Iraq beginning in the early 1990s."
Indictments are mere charges against a person, and the person is presumed to be innocent. But the consequences of such charges can ruin a person.
In the case of poorer individuals, it often means that they have no counsel and can remain in jail until such time as they appear in court and counsel is appointed. (Professor Doug Colbert spoke on the problems of not having counsel at bail hearings at a conference this past week in DC held by the Association of American Law Schools.) In addition to the inherent issues of remaining in jail, the collateral consequences here can include the loss of a job when they don't show up to work, not being able to provide for a family, and not being available to handle everyday business. Despite the claim of a person being innocent until proven guilty, those accused of crimes can suffer immediate consequences.
Although the white collar offender often has representation, there can still be collateral consequences pre-trial. Rep Tom DeLay is getting a lesson on collateral consequences as a result of the charges levied against him. Reported in CNN here, Tom DeLay, who is under indictment in Texas, has decided not to run for the majority leader, although he says he will be back for the general election for the position he presently holds in Congress.
What caused his present announcement? Could it be a resulting from pressure by "some House Republicans, who circulated a petition officially calling for new leadership elections in the wake of a series of ethics scandals?" (CNN) Do these individuals not recognize that people are innocent until proven guilty? Or do collateral consequences of an indictment or possible association with individuals charged with crimes suggest that people accused of crimes really are not innocent in the eyes of the public. A collateral consequence of being charged with a crime in the political world is that people want to distance themselves from the accused.